Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I'm John R. "Buck" Surdu. I have two Web pages that contain relatively static information about my professional life (including papers I've written) and my hobby life (including information about rules I've written and my wargaming projects). This blog is where I plan to post personal tidbits, like vacation pictures, wargaming projects, etc. Enjoy!
  • SciFi Unmanned Ground Vehicles

    Posted By on August 17, 2018

    I have been converting some 1:56 scale Bren carriers into unmanned ground vehicles for science fiction skirmish games.  I finished them earlier this week in my copious free time.

    At the last minute I decided to keep them olive drab instead of painting them with some wild camouflage pattern.  See them with some Pig Iron figures in the picture above.  I think they came out pretty nicely.

    I also finished two Tamiya M-8 Scout cars.  I need to put the stars on the front this weekend.

    Barrage 2018: Only 42 Days Away

    Posted By on August 17, 2018

    Sign up today!

    The folks from Little Wars TV will be there filming!

    Barrage 2018 is only 49 Days Away

    Posted By on August 13, 2018

    Preparations are in full swing for Barrage 2018, 28-29 September in Havre de Grace, MD, USA. Barrage is a great little convention, which will feature upwards of 5o events over two days. No politics, no hassles. On site food at reasonable rates and dining options within a short drive. Easy parking. A broad spectrum of games. Friendly HAWKs! Many kid-friendly games.

    The guys from LittleWarsTV will be there filming.

    We’ll be publishing a list of vendors soon.

    TWO Flames of War tournaments.

    The largest ADLG tournament East of the Mississippi.

    If you go to the Barrage Web site, http://www.hawks-barrage.org, you will see the currently scheduled games. The number is what we usually have seven weeks before the convention, and more are being added literally every day. If you’d like to run a game, please sign up soon.

    Combat Patrol Sea Lion Play Test for Barrage and Fall In

    Posted By on August 13, 2018

    This Saturday we held an organizational meeting for Barrage with the HAWKs who usually participate in running the convention.  After lunch we played a fun game of Combat Patrol.  Greg and I will be running this Sea Lion game at both Barrage (28-29 September) and Fall In.  The terrain will look similar to that of our Sea Lion games at Historicon 2018.  Little Basely by the Sea is once again the scene of a German attempt to gain a foothold on British soil.

    Just as the game began, the Germans are coming over the sea wall while a 35(t) comes up the narrow ramp. We placed many trucks near the waterfront to give the Germans and opportunity to steal them to help them get to the airfield.

    The Germans landed in force on the beach.  This landing craft and these Germans in rubber rafts were somewhat separated from he main body.  Their goal was to disrupt the nearby airfield so that the RAF could would be hampered in its attempts to support the beaches.  The German objective was to get across the table and into the corner of the airfield represented on the table to blow up a Spitfire.  That is a long distance to cover in a four-hour game, so we placed a lot of trucks and cars near the sea wall to enable the Germans to steal them and move more rapidly.

    Early in the game, the Women’s Land Army hears the alarm and runs from the fields to “fight them on the beaches.”

    The British forces consisted of two squads (sections) of Home Guardsman with Boys ATRs, a 6-lb. Smith Gun, one squad of regular army British soldiers.  The locals got into the action in the form of Land Girls from the Women’s Land Army, church ladies, and some women’s auxiliary with improvised weapons.

    The German forces consisted of a full platoon of German infantry, two 35(t) tanks, and a Panzer III.

    I had a squad (section) of sailors who were — of course — in the Frog and Firkin pub when the shooting started.

    The British thought that they also had a squad (section) of sailors, but it turns out they were Fifth Columnists.  They were actually German sailors in disguise.  I decided that their best use would be to run over to where the Home Guard had set up some AT weapons kill the crews and make it easier for the German tanks to get off the beaches.

    German tanks coming up from the beach, Germans disguised as British sailors, and a civilian truck full of Germans.

    The Sailors (who are really Germans in disguise) attack the Home Guard’s Boys AT Rifle to pave the way fro the German tanks.

    The German players didn’t realize I was on their side and almost began to fire on my sailors.

    The fight between the Fifth Columnists and the Home Guard gets ugly.

    The entire squad (section) of sailors was killed by the end of the game, but I had successfully kept the ATR out of the action and even began to threaten the Smith Gun with my single survivor.

    The Smith Gun takes aim — and misses bot the civilian truck full of Germans and the 35(t).

    In the meantime, Duncan had advanced his 35(t)s up the ramp from the beach and was “racing” toward their objective.  One of them kept getting really poor movement distances and the other bogged down in the woods for a couple of turns.  The Smith Gun took a shot at the advancing truck full of German infantry, but it missed horribly.  Then the 35(t) rolled into sight.

    The Smith Gun fires!

    A scene in the middle of the game from the beach. One 35(t) is burning, but the Germans are advancing on the left. The ladies’ auxiliary is harassing the Germans on the right.

    The Home Guard getting organized to fight the advancing Germans coming up from the shore.

    The game was set up so that the Germans were supposed to have an easy advance until the British reinforcements were released.  Geoff’s Home Guard and Eric’s particularly aggressive Women’s Auxiliaries slowed them more than anticipated.  When Greg’s truck full of Germans got to the third table (between the town and the airfield), that was the trigger to release the troops from the airfield.  The reinforcements consisted of four Bren carriers.  While none were equipped with ATRs, this gave the British six Brens and a .30 cal. water cooled machine-gun.  The .30 cal. could disable the lightly-armored early war tanks but failed to do so.  In the last turn, the Pz. III got close enough to shell the airfield, the British machine-gun got two shots the tank but failed to cause any damage (it was a long shot anyway).  So, I called the game a German victory.

    Late in the game, the advance of the Germans has triggered the release of some reinforcements from the airfield: four Bren carriers.

    Eric turns his Women’s Land Army girls toward the center of the bagel, while Greg ponders his position.

    It was a very fun scenario.  With one or two small tweaks, I think it will go well at Barrage and Fall In.


    Unmanned Vehicles for Sci Fi Games

    Posted By on August 12, 2018

    Size comparison between a 1:48 scale Bren carrier and a 1:56 scale Bren carrier.

    I use only 1:48 scale vehicles in my WWII games using Combat Patrol(TM).  I found 1:48 scale Bren carriers from Butler’s Printed Models.  Butler’s models, however, do not come with crews.  The only way to get crews that I found was to order the carriers and crews from Warlord.  (They don’t split up sets any more, apparently.)  So, I was stuck with some 1:56 carriers.  I was going to flea market them, but I thought that no one else would want Bren carriers without crews.  Then I thought that they might make interesting unmanned ground vehicles for science fiction games.  So out came the bits box…

    Another size comparison.

    So I found some old weapons, bits, and bobs, and began to glue these to the Bren carrier chassis.  Below you can see how they look before I will begin painting them.  The weapons are mounted with magnets so that they can be turned during a game.

    One with a button as a hatch and some old GW weapons.

    A rocket launcher vehicle.

    After painting, I think I will blue the rocket into the launcher like it’s firing.

    Two more of them. The weapon on the one on the left was the head of a robot, I believe. The one on the right is a spare GW weapon.

    Another view.

    A closer look.

    A final look.

    I will post some pictures when they are painted and ready for a game.

    The British are Coming!

    Posted By on August 4, 2018

    Greg and I have run a couple of Sea Lion based skirmish games using Combat Patrol(TM).  I really like the early war periods, like Finland 1939, Poland 1939, and France 1940.  I have recently gotten excited about Sea Lion based hypothetical scenarios.  In the Sea Lion and Fall of France games we ran at Historicon, Greg provided all the British Regulars, and I provided the Home Guard.  I wanted to flesh out our force with some additional figures.

    View of the front of the Smith Gun from Warlord

    The Smith Gun is quite interesting.  I had never heard of it until a year or so ago, and during our recent trip to Tank Fest, I saw one in person at the Imperial War Museum.  It is a 6-lb gun.  You rolled it into position and then tipped it up on its side.  The axel then became the traverse mechanism.  The “top” wheel provided limited overhead protection.  This was the Home Guard’s only viable anti-tank capability in 1940.

    Side view of the Smith Gun

    Some months ago, I purchased several packs of Warlord and Footsore Home Guard figures.  I don’t know which are from which manufacturer.

    Home Guardsmen

    More Home Guardsmen

    Some of the Warlord and/or Footsore early war British

    Another early war weapon of the Home Guard was the Northover Projector.  It fired hand grenades, rifle grenades, and special incendiary bombs to be used against tanks.

    Front view of the Northover Projector

    The weapon was fired using black powder and percussion cap.  The anti-tank bombs were glass bottles.  When the bottle broke (presumably near the vision ports of a German tank) the phosphorus inside the bottle burst into flame and filled the crew compartment with noxious fumes.  The weapon cost less than ten pounds to build.

    Two Universal Carriers with Brens

    Warlord makes nice 28mm figures but 1:56 scale vehicles.  I used 1:48 scale vehicles.  I was able to find 1:48 Bren carriers from Butler’s Printed Models, but they didn’t come with crews.  Warlord used to break up their sets as special orders, but no longer.  I had to order a set of four 1:56 Bren carriers to get the crews and some dismounts.  The 28mm figures fit nicely in the 1:48 scale vehicles.  There are additional Brens on pintles to mount on the Bren carriers, but I am waiting for some very, very small rare-earth magnets to come in the mail to mount them.  I think I will also use them to put the figures into the Bren carriers if they are thin enough.

    A Universal Carrier with a Bren and one with a medium machine-gun

    These are the dismounted figures that came with the set.  There are enough to make two squads / sections.

    British soldiers who are part of the Bren section boxed set from Warlord

    More British soldiers

    Finally, I ordered a set of Boys AT Rifle crews from Crusader Miniatures.  Together, I am starting to formulate a pretty good early war British force.

    Crusader Miniatures Boys AT Rifle crews

    Barrage 2019 Event Schedule is Growing

    Posted By on August 3, 2018


    The event schedule for Barrage 2018 is filling up.  More games being added daily.  Don’t miss the best little convention on the East Coast.  Great games, great people, no politics.  Just dice, cards, and toy soldiers.

    Take the day off Friday and start gaming at noon when the doors open.  Gaming goes until everyone tuckers out Saturday evening.

    Duncan’s Napoleonic Game with Combat Patrol at Historicon 2018

    Posted By on July 18, 2018

    From Duncan Adams:

    [Here are two long shots of the table to help provide context for Duncan’s narrative.]


    “On Friday afternoon I ran ‘Welcome to Sunny Spain,’ a Peninsular War convoy ambush using Combat Patrol: Napoleonic Supplement.
    “The game starts with the French convoy warily entering the town. Bill Mollineaux had the lead infantry, a new player (forgot his name:( ) had the cavalry, and Robert, who played Dave’s Zulu game and wanted more CP, played the infantry in the rear. There was a guerillo band, divided into three groups of six, controlled by Jeff Kimmel of the Rogues, a platoon of Cacadores (2 sections of 8) controlled by Terry (one of my groupies) blocking the road ahead, and a platoon of Portuguese light infantry (2 sections of 8), controlled by Mike waiting to close in behind the convoy after the trap was sprung.
    “Things were quiet until the Guerillos card came up, then the French forward contingent moves out to clear the way.
    “The new player, due to his inexperience, thought that this six man cavalry troop could clear eight elite cacadores out of the woods by charging them. It didn’t work very well.
    “Bill brought up his infantry platoon to try and clear the way ahead by defeating Terry’s cacadores. He was repeatedly undone by morale checks that went very badly for him while Terry’s had minimal effect.
    “Meanwhile, Robert’s French infantry was using superior numbers to get the better of Mike’s Portuguese at the rear of the column, while sending a section to clear some buildings of guerillos.
    “In desperation, hoping to finally put a bad morale result on Terry, Bill sent the French commander charged the woods.
    “Despite having impetus and a better M value Bill lost the fight.
    “Though at the end the French had just about won the rear and center fights, the cacadores were holding strong and it was far from certain that the whole remaining French could have driven them off over time. So we called it an Allied victory. Everybody seemed to have a good time.”

    Duncan’s Zorro Game at Historicon 2018

    Posted By on July 18, 2018

    From Duncan Adams:
    “On Sunday morning I ran “Zorro and the Dastardly Plot.”  I had seven players, so one played the tavern staff. I actually prefer that because the staff can do more interesting things under player control than I can do as the GM. Tom Veilott and his dad Jim Veil, a dad with a son and daughter, Joe Procopio and a friend of his were the players.
    “This was a Blood and Swash scenario with the usual overlapping objectives, but most players wanted to get the treasure of kill Zorro. But first, Bernardo had to discover the villains’ plans and report to Zorro.  [If you are a fan of the Disney show like Duncan and me, you know that Bernardo pretends to be deaf.]
    “Bernardo innocently loiters near the room where the baddies meet.
    “But having overheard their plans, he cannot get past them to use the stairs.
    “So, in a scene that reminded me of Yoda doing cartwheels with his lightsaber, Bernardo jumped off the balcony onto the bar.
    “While the villains put their plans in motion, and Don Alejandro and the tavern staff mix it up with El Comandante, Zorro emerges from the tavern cellar to put things right.
    “He is immediately accosted by Sgt Garcia and lancer Perez who want the reward for his capture. Why don’t they ever get him from opposite directions?
    “Zorro breaks away from Garcia and Perez – making both saves – and attempts to get through the baddies at the foot of the stairs. Garcia rejoins the fight – now he’s getting somewhere, coming in from behind!
    “Zorro was played by Tom Veilott who has been playing Blood and Swash as long as any of us. He knows that staying in a fight to avoid the free hit when there are objectives to reach is a sucker bet. So, Zorro breaks away from three attackers, making two full and one half saves and runs up the banister, making another save. I can just picture Guy Williams doing this.
    “On the balcony, Zorro finds more baddies, and those from the bottom of the stairs have followed him. This is getting ugly.
    “Meanwhile, in the tavern, Teo the bartender has picked up a bench and is bludgeoning one of El Commandante’s lancers.
    “After turning the tables on a minion who tried to push him off the balcony, Zorro has made it into the room with the villains’ ill gotten gains. However, the numbers are catching up to him – too many enemies, too few activations.
    “In the end it was to much for Zorro to endure. Better luck at FALL IN!”
    This looked like a good game with all the usual Blood and Swash hilarity.  Perhaps Zorro will try to escape from the Quartel with Bernardo’s help at Fall In?

    Science Fiction Transports from Things From the Basement

    Posted By on July 17, 2018

    Two science fiction transports from Things From the Basement

    These are two more items I purchased in the dealer hall at Historicon last weekend.  These are MDF vehicles.  They assembled very easily.  I have spray primed them with Army Painter Angel Green.  When the weather is good, I’ll break out the air brush and give them a nice camouflage pattern.

    Pig Iron troops in front of the open-topped transport

    Some Pig Iron troops in front of the armored transport